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08 December 2017

Review of the year

2017 is the year when everything didn’t fall apart – despite dire predictions. ONS reports life satisfaction increased across the UK, mortgage lending became the cheapest it’s ever been and house prices rise almost everywhere other than London.

January

2017 kicked off with Theresa May announcing plans for Brexit, namely a ‘hard’ Brexit including leaving the single market. CPI inflation rose by 1.8%, the highest rate since June 2014, while a London Underground strike causes travel chaos in London.

In bridging, ASTL outlaws members back charging interest.

February

While Britain is battered by Storm Doris, the launch of the Housing White paper seemed to be little more than hot air. The paper, setting out plans to reform the housing market and boost supply of new homes, is high on talk but low on detail – a theme that continues for the rest of the year. Hope declares it a ‘missed opportunity for freeing up more land and really making sure more homes were built’, while Mortgage Introducer’s editor’s comment reads, ‘So they bottled it!’.

MPs back the European Union Bill, quickly followed with another white paper as the government sets out its Brexit plans.

March

Philip Hammond delivers his first budget causing such a hooha with proposals to raise National Insurance payments that he later backtracks and decides not to introduce it after all.

In an action-packed month, Parliament passes the Brexit bill, paving the way for the Government to trigger Article 50 which it then does. Michael Heseltine is promptly sacked as government adviser after he rebels against said bill while George Osborne causes mischief by becoming editor of the London Evening Standard.

In bridging, brokers protest at some lenders offering low rates they say never materialise, while the number of lenders who appear to renege on deals at the last minute seems to be increasing, raising the need for brokers to only deal with lenders who keep their promises.

April

New entrants to the bridging market appears to gather pace, while the ASTL’s sentiment survey reveals lenders are increasingly positive about the sector’s prospects – 85% feel volumes will grow over the next six months.

Theresa May calls a snap general election for June in hope of an increased majority and a ‘strong and stable government’. Local elections seem to bear this out as Conservatives gain 500 seats and control of 11 councils.

Less good news for landlords as tax relief on mortgage costs is restricted to basic rate tax. Also for those going abroad as announcement of an election saw the pound plummet.

May

More good news for bridging as ASTL reveals a 123% pa rise in bridging applications. Hope Capital witnesses a similar rise and appoints a new BDM for London and South East – part of a £50m expansion.

Chelsea wins Premier League, but then promptly lose the FA Cup to Arsenal.

However, in a sobering reflection of troubled times, Manchester Arena is bombed as a concert finishes. Many of the over 500 injured and killed were only children.

June

June’s ongoing heatwave records the hottest day since 1976. The government felt the heat in more ways than one as the General Election leaves Teresa May ruing the day she called it, her majority reduced to just 318 seats and forced to form a coalition with the DUP. David Davis starts formal negotiations with the EU with a weaker hand as a result.

Two more disasters: an attack on London Bridge and the dreadful Grenfell Tower fire left the uncountable numbers dead. This kicks off a review of building regulations and construction methods to ensure council buildings particularly, are safe to live in.

July

A good month for sport: Lewis Hamilton wins a fifth British Grand Prix, Roger Federer wins Wimbledon – the first man to win it eight times, while England’s women’s cricket team win the world cup against India.

In the ASTL’s latest survey, lenders remain positive about prospects: 70% feel their volumes will grow over the next six months.

Announcement State Pension age rise to 68 will be phased in from 2039 rather than 2044 obviously worries Vince Cable so he hurriedly gets a job as LibDem leader, aged 74.

August

The tenth anniversary of the run on Northern Rock saw much reflection of how banking has changed for the better.

MPs back the EU Withdrawal Bill but kick up a fuss at Big Ben being silenced during a four-year renovation of its tower.

Positive sentiment is borne out as the value of bridging loans exceeds £3 billion pa for the first time.

September

Hope celebrates its sixth birthday with a party and expands still further with the appointment of a BDM for Wales and the South West.

The Bank of England worries about ballooning consumer debt, saying Britain’s banks could incur £30bn of losses on unsecured lending if interest rates and unemployment rose sharply.

October

Hope Capital expands team with new underwriters and support staff, increasing headcount 30% this year.

Hurricane Ophelia is not the only storm to hit the UK as the EU’s chief negotiator tells press talks are in a “very disturbing state of deadlock”.

CPI increases to 3%, the highest rate of inflation for more than five years, while figures from the ONS indicate Britain is £490 billion poorer than previously thought! Monarch Airlines, is also poorer than thought as the UK’s fifth biggest airline, goes into administration.

November

November brings budget time and the first interest rate rise in ten years. Most notable is the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers, a consultation into stopping land banking and another on creating a new Housing Ombudsman.

There’s a feel good factor among royalists as the Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary and Prince Harry announces his engagement to Meghan Markle. Further celebrations as, for the first time ever, all the UK’s seven major banks pass their stress test.

December

Hope Capital’s loan book, which has at least doubled in size every year since 2011, is on target to reach its highest in the company’s history by year end. Hope celebrates taking on a larger office to support its growing team.

Total value of UK housing passes £6trillion according to Halifax. Up from £4tn in 2007.

Despite uncertainty surrounding the economy and Brexit, bridging continues to prosper. The housing market continues to grow and demand outstrip supply with CML predictions of £248 billion gross mortgage lending in 2017.

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